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Let’s talk about growing snowberry!
Growing snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) is fairly easy. Moreover, this plant offers lots of benefits beyond just being pretty!
Where does snowberry grow?
Snowberry is a scrubby, deciduous, North American native shrub that is adapted to a wide range of habitats. So if you garden in the Pacific Northwest, growing snowberry means you’re adding an indigenous plant to your garden!
Snowberry loves damp areas. Plus, it does great in dense clay soils. But it will tolerate dry spots too. Plus, it thrives in both full sun and in shade. So that means you’ll find it in dark forest understories. And you’ll see it spreading along sunny roadsides and mixed hedgerows and thickets too.
What are some of the benefits of growing snowberry?
Snowberry provides forage and habitat for wildlife.
So if you grow it, know that deer may browse on it (especially in early spring). Plus, when snowberry blooms in spring, all sorts of pollinators will visit your garden to gather from it.
Thicket-forming snowberry also provides great hiding spots and nesting spots for birds, bunnies, and other wildlife.
Is snowberry edible?
In our estimation, snowberry is not edible. So if you’re looking for tasty fruiting shrubs, growing snowberry might not be your best bet.
That being said, some will say you can eat it. However, if you decide to give it a try, be 100% certain you are not eating one of the highly toxic baneberries that some think look like snowberry!
Moreover, if you want to grow a shrub that offers edible berries for birds, this might not be the plant for you. That’s because few birds choose to eat snowberries. In fact, we’ve only once seen a chickadee snatch a snowberry to eat.
Is snowberry invasive?
Snowberry readily spreads into thickets. This means it can fill out an entire border fast. And those spreading roots can be a challenge to dig up. That’s because the plant spreads woody plants far and wide. And eventually those spreading roots pop up what looks like a new snowberry shrub. However, often those “new” shrubs are actually a part of the original plant!
This means snowberry is ideal for large gardens where you want a plant to take over!
Is snowberry hard to grow?
While its may succumb to a bit of powdery mildew in the most stressful environments, it’s a tough shrub to kill through placement choices or neglect.
What does snowberry look like?
From spring through fall, snowberry has simple grey-green foliage. In offers little in the way of fall color. But in winter when snowberry twiggy branches are bare, the snow-white berries stand out beautifully.
Plus, since birds rarely eat the berries, they’re striking for much of the dark winter months.
In about mid-spring, snowberry erupts with an abundance of tiny pink-white flowers. And when that happens, the entire thicket begins to buzz with bee-song.
Tips to design a garden growing snowberry:
To ensure those white winter berries really shine, give your shrubs an evergreen backdrop. That means plant something evergreen behind your snowberry plants. That way the white berries will visually “pop”!
A few plants to consider include:
Mahonia, evergreen huckleberry or even a few sword ferns in the shade.
If you’re gardening in the sun, consider mixing snowberry with wild, hippy roses — especially in a hedgerow, which offers protective habitat all year for wildlife.